Cheryl Blaine, Advisor, Downtown Development Director at Peake Consulting Cheryl’s experience in downtown development and revitalization encompasses over 18 years. She was initially hired in a part-time employee to lead a small merchant’s organization and she blossomed into a leader for downtown development. Her entrepreneurial spirit led to the rebirth of interest in investing in the future of Bowling Green, Kentucky’s historic downtown. As a result, Cheryl pioneered the creation of a 501(c) (3) non-profit entity to spearhead the revitalization process, resulting in an economic impact of over $25 million for Downtown Bowling Green between 2007-2010. Cheryl’s techniques to successful downtown revitalization focus on a team approach and encompass diverse strategies to attract residents, tourists, and businesses. Believing that economic development should be the primary focus in the revitalization process, Cheryl incorporates a comprehensive, flexible plan of action as prioritized by the community. Development and implementation of these priorities include: creating a “sense of place” by identifying, preserving, and utilizing significant community assets; identifying catalyst projects that are community-specific to attract local and regional development; creating an appealing atmosphere, infill development, event creation, marketing, and developing. Utilizing this multi-faceted approach, Cheryl researched historical records and worked with the community and local government to define, expand, and create a new identity for the existing downtown area. She led in renewing interest in the historic African-American “Shake Rag” area in downtown, assisting with the formation of two nonprofit groups. She gained regional and even national exposure for Downtown Bowling Green; i.e., influencing country music singer Martina McBride to produce a country music video in Bowling Green; obtaining national designation as a Preserve America Community, personally receiving recognition from First Lady Laura Bush; and creating a new website for downtown offering virtual tours of local shops and attractions. Coordinator of the annual free summer concert series held downtown (initially attended by approximately 250 persons per event), Blaine greatly expanded the annual series, transformed it into a fundraiser, and gained regional exposure for the event. As of 2010, the series was turning a net profit of over $40,000, held in two parks, and attended by over 20,000 tourists and residents over a period of eight weeks. Cheryl’s background in stimulating innovation and enterprise development resulted in providing her with expertise in: fostering a team environment by establishing consensus and developing partnerships among citizens and local, state, and federal governments; implementing a regional plan of action by creating unique redevelopment projects and solutions to impending challenges; and, identifying funding opportunities through research, lobbying, grant writing, and administration. A self-starter, Cheryl researched for, wrote, lobbied, and obtained grants for various projects and administrative activities. These grants included funds for : historic preservation of both residential and commercial buildings; streetscaping; promotional interests such as brochures and interstate signage; the creation of a twenty-year Revitalization Strategy; and, the creation of the catalyst project for downtown— Circus Square Park. Cheryl has networked with other downtown professionals throughout the United States and Canada through her involvement in local, state, national, and international downtown associations. She has also been involved with other local projects and organizations, serving on boards and attending various conferences and presentations. At the request of local, state, and national officials, Cheryl has coordinated local events featuring presentations including the governor, and US Congressmen Mitch McConnell and Brett Guthrie. Cheryl and Margaret began working together in 1999, soon after Margaret became President and CEO of the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Authority. Margaret realized the important relationship between a viable downtown and attracting new businesses, strengthening the community’s economic base. As a result, the Chamber became a critical component of the downtown revitalization process, from partnering in catalyst projects, to providing assistance, referrals, and economic development training. Margaret was instrumental in guiding and introducing Cheryl to the right people, and in networking efforts.